Brandon Straka is a New York hairstylist who gained fame as the face of a new #WalkAway movement urging people to leave liberalism, which he says has become too intolerant.
Straka gained fans among conservatives when he appeared in a video denouncing the left and saying that he was switching political allegiance. In the wake of that attention, he says he has been denied service while trying to buy a camera and other equipment. Conservative celebrities like Sarah Palin and websites then highlighted Straka’s effort, which has turned into the hashtag #WalkAway.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Straka Gained Fame By Urging People to Leave Liberalism Behind
The movement Brandon Straka is trying to create is called the #WalkAway Campaign. He has said that “negative rhetoric spoken by the left and intolerance it has shown has been a big reason as to why he’s walked away,” according to Fox News.
A video featuring Straka starts, “Once upon time I became a liberal.” You can watch it above. “I reject tyrannical groupthink,” he says in the video, which has gone viral.
“Well, to be honest, less than a year ago, I was still a liberal,” he continues in the video. “I reject a system which allows an ambitious, misinformed and dogmatic mob to suppress free speech, create false narratives, and apathetically steamroll over the truth….I reject hate.” He called liberalism “intolerant, inflexible, illogical, hateful, misguided, ill-informed, un-American, hypocritical, menacing, callous, ignorant, narrow-minded and at times blatantly fascistic.” You can read a transcript of his video here.
He added, “If you are a person of color, an LGBT person, a woman or an American immigrant, the Democratic Party wants you to know you are a victim. This is perhaps the Democratic Party’s greatest, and most insidious, lie.”
On Facebook, he wrote, “Approaching 10,000 views and almost 400 shares in 3 days. Not bad!! But let’s really kick this campaign into high gear!!! Please share this post and include a message encouraging others to watch the video and read the attached post with details and info about the #WalkAway campaign!!”
He also has a page called The Unsilent Minority on Facebook. “The Democratic Party has taken for granted that it owns racial, sexual, and religious minorities in America. It has encouraged groupthink, hypocrisy, division, stereotyping, resentment, and the acceptance of victimhood mentality. And all the while, they have discouraged minorities from having independent thought, open dialogue, measured and informed opinion, and a motivation to succeed,” he wrote.
2. Straka Is a Stylist & Aspiring Actor
Daily Beast reports that Straka was a stylist in New York City before becoming an activist. On Twitter, he defines himself as “Campaign Founder. Former Liberal. Gay. Conservative. Outspoken. And on a mission to #RedPill humanity ?.” On Facebook, Straka writes that he “Studied Cosmetology at Aveda Institute New York.”
Conservative celebrity James Woods was among those tweeting out the new #WalkAway hashtag. Heavy has reached out to Straka to request an interview. He told the Epoch Times that he was afraid posting the video would cost him his aspirations to be an actor but a conservative friend encouraged him to post it.
The Washington Post wrote an article that argued the #WalkAway movement has not become as popular outside of conservative circles as some websites say.
Straka told conservative podcaster David J. Harris that his conversion is so recent that he cried when Trump was elected. “It’s funny now, but at the time it was completely tragic,” he said in the interview. “I was like a heartbeat away from being that ‘Leave Britney alone!’ guy … crying hysterically.”
He countered critics on social media, writing, “I’ve read so many comments about me being hired by the Koch brothers- and also that my video was written by Breitbart and that I’m an incredibly stupid actor who delivered the lines without understanding what I was reading. ??? First of all, if you knew how sad and trifling my checking and savings accounts are I think that would dispel the great Koch brothers payoff myth. I am however an actor… but not a stupid one. I wrote this script 100%, from the passion that I feel in my heart for what I was saying.”
3. Straka Grew Up in Nebraska & His Positions Changed After Learning How Obama-era Regulations Affected Small Businesses
Brandon Straka gave an interview to the Epoch Times in which he says he was raised in Nebraska. He opposed President Donald Trump “until he began asking people back home why they had voted for him. To his astonishment, they told him about Obama-era regulations that had crippled their small businesses,” the site explains.
“I was afraid of losing all my friends. As I began posting about these things on social media, people started attacking me and unfriending me,” he told Epoch Times.
“But I thought, ‘You know what, this is too important.’ Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a gay man and I’ve already been through this—people making up lies about what it means to be gay and trying to shame me. I was like, ‘I’m not doing it. I’m not doing this twice.’
3. Straka Says He Was Denied Service After Being Recognized ‘From TV’
On July 5, 2018, Straka posted a tweet in which he said he was denied service at a store he did not identify.
“I’m shaking right now. I just went into a camera store to buy a camera and a light and mic, etc. and they recognized me from tv. I was refused service because they said it was for ‘alt right’ purposes. That literally just happened,” Straka wrote on Twitter on July 5, 2018. He did not identify the store in the tweet but told BigLeaguePolitics that it was Adorama.
He told the site that, although one employee allegedly refused to serve him, another completed the sale. He said a customer recognized him from Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News.
He then posted the above message and photo, writing, “What happened to me today will NOT slow me down or deter me in any way. We will prevail. #WalkAway.” He also posted the same messages on Facebook.
He also wrote, “Favor- PLZ do not retaliate against this camera shop. All of the other employees could not have been nicer. The reason I decided 2go forward w/ the story is because I hope 2open a conversation between me &gays on the left. I’m about EMPOWERING gay people”
The tweets immediately started to go viral, with many people in the comment thread urging Straka to name the store, as Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did when she was asked to leave a Lexington, Virginia restaurant named the Red Hen. Sanders’ ouster from the restaurant sparked a firestorm of controversy as the owner defended herself by saying she felt she had to take a stand because she morally opposes Trump’s actions as president.
Straka’s thread filled up with comments of support. “They are losing, so they will use any means necessary to stop you. It wont work. The GREAT Awakening is happening despite their resistance. Im sorry this happened, but let it fuel your amazing drive to get the truth to all corners, all people. ??❤??” wrote one man.
“Please post the store and address. It didn’t work out so well for the Red Hen. We have your back…#WalkAway,” wrote another. Heavy has reached out to Straka for comment.
5. Some Other Conservatives Have Been Denied Service in Recent Months
There have been other incidents conservatives finding an unwelcome response in public spaces in recent months. An employee at a Vancouver restaurant was fired after he was accused of asking a customer to remove a MAGA hat if he wanted to be served. That incident came on the heels of President Donald Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave a Lexington, Virginia restaurant where she was dining with members of her family. Other people who work for Trump, such as Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, have been confronted in restaurants in recent weeks. You can watch video of the Nielsen confrontation here.
In April 2018, a New York judge dismissed a lawsuit from a man who says he was denied service at a bar in that state because he was wearing a MAGA hat, which the bar denies. In addition, Democratic Rep. Maxine Water is under fire for urging people to confront Trump supporters wherever they see them.
In San Antonio, a teenager named Hunter Richard said a man took his MAGA hat and threw a drink on him at a Whataburger restaurant.